Here’s a few practicals of arguing, Laura and I have picked up along the way:
H.A.L.T. Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired.
It’s what we’ve conditioned ourselves to ask before launching into an argument. I’d say 90% of my arguments with Laura are really about something else. For example, Laura has stopped me when I’m annoyed with a way she disciplined the kids and asked, “Have you had dinner yet?” (Hungry) Another time, Laura was overly frustrated about the stack of dishes in the sink and I was able to gently ask if she was mad about someone at work. (Angry) I can recall numerous times I’ve become sarcastic and short with Laura and she’s quietly asked when is the last time I’ve hung out with my guy friends. (Lonely) Also, we’ve discovered the hard way, there is no such thing as a constructive conversation in the middle of the night. (Tired) Having the discipline to think “H.A.L.T.” when an argument is looming can save a lot of unnecessary battles and get to the real needs in our lives.
“You never take out the garbage cans!”
“You always interrupt me!”
These kind of statements can leave any spouse feeling rather defeated. It’s hyperbolic, unnecessary, and ultimately not constructive. Sometimes, it can leave the victim throwing their hands in the air and thinking, “Why bother?” And lets be honest, they sometimes take out the garbage cans, don’t they? A few years ago, there was that one time they didn’t interrupt you, right? Keeping the conversation from absolutes allows encouraging dialogue. We’ve worked hard at eliminating these kind of statements from our arguments.
Welp, there’s just a couple tools Laura and I have adopted along the way. If you are interested in more, check out the Marriage Conference Event Page happening in my area.
What practical tools have you used in your marriage in order to fight fairly?
Have you ever seen acrobats perform on the trapeze? I think they call them artists for a reason because the mid-air acrobatics is quite beautiful. The whole event is graceful and seemingly effortless as they soar through the air letting go from the bar, suspended in mid-air for just a moment, and then caught at just the right time. Above all else, it is an extravagant example of faith. The trapeze actually reminds me of a conversation Jesus had with a thief just before his death.
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”(1)
The man Jesus spoke with was on his last breath. He was literally clinging to life as his final moments drew near. It seems he had been clinging to his own way of doing things for sometime but then the unthinkable happens.
The thief lets go.
He lets go of his own methods. He loosens the grip on his pride. He opens his hands to answers beyond himself.
Then he had to wait.
This must have seemed terrifying as he placed his trust in one he barely knew. I imagine the time between the thief’s question and Jesus’ answer must have seemed like an eternity. Time must have froze as he suspended in mid-air.
And then he was caught.
Hands clasped as Jesus promises paradise. The whole story is a beautiful exchange. A graceful and artistic display. A perfectly timed rescue.
This Easter, faith can look like this for you and me. We can experience the thrilling adventure of faith again. The pain of letting go. The terror of waiting. The joy of being caught. I think I’ll follow in the example of my sticky fingered friend. Care to join me?
1. Luke 23:42,43 NIV
Last week I went to bed angry. Laura and I had an argument and she wanted to talk it out but instead I was stubborn and fell asleep. The next morning I awoke to my three year old son, Lincoln, pulling on the covers and the smell of hot coffee. Laura had made me breakfast in bed.(1) She had gotten up early to make this just for me. What a pleasant surprise! I didn’t see that one coming! The breakfast softened my heart and humbled me as I remembered I’m in a relationship with an amazing person.
I think that’s why I love Easter. It’s a day filled with pleasant surprises. One of my favorite Easter stories happened one early morning on the beach of Tiberius. Previously, Peter had betrayed Jesus three separate times during his greatest time of need. Jesus had been murdered on a cross and then resurrected from the grave but him and Peter had not yet talked about what had happened. Peter was on a boat one morning when there on the beach stood the resurrected God of the Universe. The same God, Peter pretended didn’t exist. Peter is understandably shaken, so he jumps into the water and begins swimming ashore. This is where the story picks up:
When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat… Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” (2)
Wow, what a pleasant surprise! If I was Peter, I would have expected at least a cold shoulder. Wouldn’t an “I told you so” made sense in this situation? Shouldn’t the logical thing be to enlist a strict rehabilitation program for Peter with limited responsibilities so he doesn’t make the rest of us look bad again?
But the God of Easter reacts differently. Instead of a cold shoulder, he makes a warm breakfast. This grace can soften our heart and humble us as we remember how good He really is. God’s love for us defies logic. While we go our way, he gets up early planning extravagant expressions of His love. His response to our mistakes is different from any other person we know. He is the God of the pleasant surprise.
May God pleasantly surprise you this Easter.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. -Psalm 34:8
- Scrambled eggs and toast with the perfect amount of cream in my coffee. Yes, I out kicked my coverage on that one.
- John 21